• Staff writer


In anticipation of this year’s Remembrance Day, Mayford Seeds have launched a new seed packet of Flanders poppy seed (Papaver rhoeas). Initially instituted to commemorate those who fell in World War 1, Remembrance Day on 11 November now symbolises all those who have lost their lives in the line of duty. The Flanders poppy, which carpeted the battlefields of the Western Front, is worn or laid as wreaths to mark the day. Flanders Fields in Belgium was a major battle theatre during the war. Experts have said that the poppy is fast disappearing there due to dramatic changes in the plant life of northern France and Belgian Flanders over the past 100 years.

The seed needs cool soil conditions to germinate, so plant from late autumn into early spring, and germination should occur within two to three weeks. Plant in a sunny position in beds or pots, drifts around the garden or massed planting in one bed. Plant the seeds where you want them to mature, as they prefer not to be moved. Once sown, pat the soil down firmly and water well. Keep the soil damp until the seedlings are established, after which the plants are water-wise. Deadhead any spent flowers to extend their flowering time. The blooms can be used as cut flowers and should be picked as soon as the red of the petals begin to show.

Oil from the seed is highly regarded in France and fresh, young leaves can be eaten raw or cooked like spinach. They are best used before the plant has produced flower buds.


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